12. Through Words
The Citadel of Minas Tirith was centered around corridors of white and dark stone, great hall arching into great hall. But beside the proud chambers were smaller, warmer rooms, lined in wood and woven hangings, for common duties and the work of clerks. Aragorn had stolen some time to meet in one of those smaller rooms with two visitors from outside the city. He perched on a clerk’s stool, his rich red cloak trailing on the floor, to speak fondly with his guests.
Both guests were clad in nondescript cloaks to give them a little peace as they walked around the city. Their handsome elvish faces drew a great deal of attention, for they were the twin brothers of Gondor’s new Queen.
“Of all the buildings you were shown today, I believe the third one will be the best to use as an embassy for the Elves. What do you think?” said Aragorn. Aragorn’s foster-brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, nodded.
“I don’t see why you even offered the other two, to be honest. The last we saw is the only one with decent stables,” said Elrohir. Elladan gave him a disapproving glance, but Aragorn only smiled.
“I will miss you two when you return north,” said Aragorn. “Scarcely anyone dares to correct me in these days, save Mithrandir.”
Elladan quipped, “We will be sure to tell Arwen that before we leave – she will fill that gap for you.” The three laughed together, and Elladan spoke on. “But Legolas came with us, and his opinion should weigh more than ours in this. He will likely be sending more of his folk to this embassy than we of Rivendell.”
“Yes, I will speak of this with him as well. But I wished to talk to you two alone, after this morning’s councils,” said Aragorn.
The twins both braced themselves. The morning had seen the White Council sit and speak for the last time. Elrohir had joined his brother at the council. With the wizards and many Elves leaving Middle-Earth, such a counsel would never be held again. Many matters that concerned all Middle-Earth had been decided. They had said little. It was Aragorn’s beginning, and their father’s last hour to wield great lordship. But Galadriel’s presence had silenced them the most; she alone knew that the twin brothers were lovers. Ever since she had told them that she knew, they had been waiting for someone else to confront them.
Aragorn’s words made them abashed at their fears. “I wished to thank you. You were ever there for me, even when I told you I loved your sister.”
The brothers answered at the same moment. “Aragorn! How could we do otherwise?” said one, and “We told you then it made no difference to us,” said the other.
“Perhaps, but it means something to have these things said. All eyes turn to Elrond’s grief, but I know what Arwen is to you,” Aragorn said.
Elladan half-bowed as he sat. “We love Arwen dearly, and she is all our honour. And she could not have found a better one to love than you, in all the long years of our lives.” Elrohir nodded, and their grey eyes were warm.
Aragorn relaxed under that warm regard. “I also wished to say that you will have every honour in my courts, even though you are not made princes of Arnor.”
Elrohir waved the possibility away. “Brother-in-law, there will be plenty of lords for the North without us. You have all the folk of the Dúnedain to ennoble.”
“That will bring enough problems. Galadriel was right when she said today it was not fitting that elf-lords be counted lords of mortals.” Elladan noted this with his wry smile. He admired the argument Galadriel had raised, well aware that this noble-sounding statement would bar the incestuous brothers from a role in Aragorn’s realm. She had not bid the twins separate, but her actions showed what she felt about their being lovers.
“So you will join your fate to the elves - you have chosen,” said Aragorn.
“We know what our choice will be. All that remains is to speak it; that is how the choice is sealed, through words,” said Elladan.
Elrohir said, “Our father said he spoke to Eonwë, the herald of the Valar. Of course, Eonwë’s not here right now! But now that we know, should we do it tonight, Elladan, do you think? It feels right to me.” Elladan nodded. As guarded as they remained with Aragorn, they spoke more freely before him than any other in Minas Tirith.
“I am sure that Mithrandir would hearken to your choice,” Aragorn noted.
The twins shook their heads together. Elladan spoke again. “It is different for each of us who must choose their doom. Arwen’s fate was sealed when she spoke her wedding vows to you. We have our own way in mind.”
Elrohir asked, “Is there anywhere blessed to the Valar in this city, any hallow we might go to this night?”
“The tombs of Rath Dínen were sacred, but they are much damaged. Nor is a place of mortal death the best for your task. The Court of the Fountain, where the White Tree grows, is very blessed.”
Neither of the twins seemed enthused at this, remembering Galadriel’s words with them in that cloister. “Perhaps somewhere more private?” asked Elladan.
Aragorn smiled at them. “More Elvish, you mean. Those are the chief hallows within the city walls…no, there is one more. The Tower of Ecthelion. There is a chamber at its pinnacle. It is held sacred because those with the keenest eyes can see a glimpse of the western sea from there.”
Elladan frowned. “I heard that the perished Steward strove mind to mind with Sauron there. And little good it did him.”
“Yes, and he slew himself in the hallow of Rath Dínen,” said Aragorn. “And you yourself saw the Court of the Fountain before the White Tree was replanted. Hallows fade and are renewed, here, for this is a mortal city.” Elladan looked thoughtful at this.
“Well, I think it will do,” said Elrohir.
They were all silent for a moment. Aragorn bowed his head in an elvish gesture of acceptance and regret. “It seems that you have made your choice to balance Arwen’s, sparing Elrond the loss of all his children. I regret that your free choice was taken from you by our wedding.”
The twins stood up with one mind. “Arwen’s choice had less to do with our decision than you might think,” Elladan said.
Elrohir added, “You of all folk should never regret whom you love.”
“That is good to hear, my kinsmen.” The three embraced.
Elrohir turned his head and looked at how the light fell. “Well, we could tell you all into the next day how great and good you are, and how fair Minas Tirith is, and all our wishes for you. But the sun will be down soon, and I fain would watch the stars rise from this tower. Tomorrow is our last night here, so if we go to the Tower, tonight is best.” They made their farewells and parted.
When they reached the outdoors path to the Tower, Elrohir slumped with relief. “Never does the lie of not telling others about us burn me as much as when we talk to Aragorn. I wish I knew why. What are you looking at?”
“You can see the city beneath us from here.” Elrohir turned and saw his brother transfixed by the streetscape. Elladan said, “I never felt much like a mortal until we came to the White City. It is like an old tale come to life and made fair, full of streets to explore, everywhere something new from mortals’ minds. I could live here all my days, even were they short.”
Elrohir said, “If you could be pried out of their archives and bookbinders once in a while, I would be glad to spend those days with you. But we have our duty in the North, to care for Rivendell while it lasts. I did not wish to make Aragorn feel any worse by telling him that he was right, in part, about why we choose as we do.” He put his hand on Elladan’s shoulder. They drank in the warmth and hope of the city, watching the streets being lighted, basking for a time in what they were about to lose. When the sun glimmered nearly-set over the plains below, they went to the height where the Tower waited.
The Tower of Ecthelion was a marvel, fifty fathoms high in the whitest granite, casting its dusk-shadow dark and long over the pathway behind it. The brethren walked along its path, then up the six steps to the tower’s double doors. With measured ceremony, each pressed on one half of the door, that they might open it together.
The door did not budge.
They looked at each other; then Elladan pressed harder on his side, while Elrohir rattled the handle on his. “Locked,” he said.
“Well, this is a fine pass. Why in Arda do they lock it?” Elladan groused.
“So unhappy folk don’t throw themselves from the tower’s windows.” The twins turned about. “Had a few toss themselves over during the siege.” They were being addressed by a man with a creased round face, going silvery-bald, clad in the livery of the White Tree. They had gone by him a minute past on the tower’s path. “What d’you fellows want?”
Elladan cast back the hood of his cloak, as did Elrohir. The man’s expression changed, eyes widening with wonder. All the City knew of the handsome twin brothers of their Queen, like she of mingled elvish and mortal blood. “You’re lucky to catch me here, my lords. Just lit a lantern at the top, I did. Command of the King himself,” he added, proudly.
“Then you have the key, and can let us in,” said Elrohir. “We would climb the tower for a time.”
“If my lords want. I will wait here until you come down.” The twins both began to say it was not needful, but the man said, “Not supposed to be left unlocked, it’s not – they’d have my tabard if someone took a fancy to chuck themselves off the top tonight. ” He straightened as he placed a hand on the White Tree broidered across his tabard.
“Who’d want to slay themselves in these times, when all goes well?” asked Elrohir.
The man quickly glanced west, then said, “Don’t ask such questions, m’lord; it’s bad luck to find the answer to that.”
Elladan and Elrohir looked at each other. Elrohir’s eyes flicked between the man and Elladan, and Elladan nodded, almost imperceptibly. Elladan turned to the lugubrious guard and said, “We shall praise your conscientiousness to the King Elessar himself! We will not remain in Gondor long, and one thing only we ask…”
After three minutes of persuasion, Elladan held a great silver key, and the guard was saying, “Wouldn’t hand this off to you if I didn’t have a spare, m’lords. Mind you lock it after you go in, so’s nobody slips in behind you. All very irregular – I’d be happy to stay and attend you, m’lords.” Elladan repeated, soothingly, that they would bring the key back to him at the guard’s barracks as soon as they might. The guard nodded, and said, “If I am not at the barracks, I’m at the tavern next door to’t.”
Elrohir beamed. “You will not lose your tabard on our account.”
Before the man could detain them further, they bowed to him and nipped through the doors. Elladan locked them from the inside while Elrohir stood in the centre of the tower. A stair wound up about the walls, through an opening in the adorned ceiling above. “Fifty fathoms,” Elrohir muttered. Had they come there on a lighter errand, he would have made merry over the canny guard, who would show all his drinking-mates that he had truly met the brothers of the Queen. As it was, he waited for Elladan to join him, and they made the long, meditative, thigh-aching climb together.
By the time they reached the top, the sun had set entirely. Each of the tall tower-chambers had shrunk in size, and the room at the pinnacle could be spanned in six strides. Those who stood within could hear the banners hung from the pinnacle flowing and snapping in the winds. It was a plain chamber with an elaborate glass-shielded lantern hanging at its centre, burning much oil from several wicks, making the room as bright as noon. Any other furniture that had been there in the past had been removed, save for a modest cupboard. Curious, Elrohir opened it, and both saw that it held spare lantern-panes, wicks, and oil. Elladan had gone to lean out of the most westward window, an arch opening into the high airs.
“We have not had so far a view since we stood atop Amon Sûl. Here, even as high as this, the stars are slightly dimmed from all the city’s lights,” Elladan said. “No matter. Let us look west and speak as we have planned.”
“I would be quiet first,” said Elrohir, coming to join him.
Elladan said nothing, but slipped one arm around his brother’s waist. Elrohir never found out what Elladan had thought as they stood there before pledging their choice of fate, nor did he ever tell his brother all of what ran through him. Sadness, the coming loss of many he had loved and a divine mystery he would never know; resentment of their kinswoman Galadriel; yearning for those who waited on ahead; and, though his form was as fair as ever, and his nature as ready to mirth, weariness after their revenge, the quest that had been longer than many wars. When he felt ready, he turned and gave Elladan a chaste warrior’s kiss on the cheek, and said, “Well. Now?” In a last gesture of defiance, he ringed his own arm around Elladan’s waist, glad to see his brother did not move away. Let the Valar see them as they were, he thought.
Elladan invoked the Valar and Illúvatar himself to hearken to them, with formal words that made his brother shiver. Following this, he said, “We, the sons of Elrond Peredhil, have a choice laid on us; to bide by the doom of Elves, bound undying to the life of Arda, or the doom of Men, whose souls are freed beyond the circles of the world.”
Elrohir spoke next. “And we two together make our choice. We join the Elves, the Eldar, the Quendi.”
“Yes, we join the Elves. The burden of the Eldar we take onto us: the loss and endless memory,” said Elladan. “We will take the long road to you over the sea, forsaking the lands of our lives. And we, brothers and lovers, will come forth to your circle of judgement, and hear your judgement of us. Thus the doom that we take is twice heavy.”
“Whatever your words are – we will not be parted. So we have sworn.” Elrohir was silent a moment, then he whispered, “Is there anything else?”
“Do you want to say anything else to the Valar? Or to the One?” asked Elladan.
A hundred yearnings churned inside him, too many to sort. Elrohir shook his head. “Nor do I,” whispered Elladan. He ended the short rite, thanking the high ones and the creator who had hearkened.
Elrohir bowed his head when the last words were said. Speaking the choice made it no easier to bear. His brother’s arm was firm about his waist, so he was not startled when Elladan turned him about for a hard embrace. The salty streaks of tears on Elladan’s face did surprise him. Elladan’s voice had betrayed no tremor. They stayed before the window, wrapped around each other, for several minutes.
Elrohir felt Elladan’s lips rest against the base of his neck, and grasped his brother tighter. He realized that, without thinking about it, he was stroking below the small of Elladan’s back. Elladan, still leaning against Elrohir’s shoulder, said, “At least that does not feel different.” He turned his face up to add, “Let us see about the rest…”
Elrohir, loath to draw his hands away, eager to drive the sorrow from Elladan’s eyes, felt more modest than usual. “This is a high hallow - should we make love here?” He glanced skywards, as if anxious of the tale the stars would bring their mistress.
Elladan caressed his sibling. “My brother, we should not make love anywhere. Still, I should like to, in this hour and place. It is private. And if we are doomed to eternal memory, it would be a fair thing to remember: that we stole a little of our own blessedness in this hallow, that I lay with you above the White City and near the stars.”
Elrohir smiled. “The things you say; I shall try and gild my speech to match yours, tonight.”
For a brief moment, two lovers locked in a kiss were silhouetted in the Tower of Ecthelion. Then they sank to their knees, below the high windows. Though the night came down outside, the chamber was without shadow, bright and warm as mid-day from the great lamp.
Elladan drew his mouth away from Elrohir’s enough to ask, “Did you fear that I would cease to want this, now that we know the judgement we will face?”
“I had wondered,” Elrohir muttered.
“I could feel it. You have been looking at me sidelong all evening.” Elladan’s touch was forgiving. “But I do not think I will change, any more than other folk tire of eating bread,” he said.
Elrohir pressed himself even closer to Elladan. “That is good. Some of the Elves I know say lust grows dull over the ages – and I do not think I am the most inventive in such things,” he said.
“Ask anything of me, ever, if I am wearisome to you.” Elladan drank another long kiss from Elrohir, and his next words made him flush in the warm room. “For now, would it be well if you took me again? Far from inventive. But so much changes around us – I would be glad if one thing stayed the same.”
“Forget the changes, for now, and tell me how you want it,” said Elrohir.
Elladan clenched his brother’s upper arms and said, “Take these clothes off, every strip.”
Elrohir leaned back with his hands on his hips, smiling broadly at the imperative. “Lordly, aren’t you?”
“When else do we dare a lighted room at night? I would see you.”
Elrohir’s thin tunic and leggings were easy to set aside, but the ties of a loincloth worn for summer modesty took a moment. Elladan seemed happy to watch, saying, “I am glad I am of the same face and form as you, even though I am not so fair in bearing. To be your shadow is enough.”
Elrohir drew his linen away at last. “No, you are more comely than me, I am sure. Someday we will settle this with a mirror. For now, your own clothes are in the way.”
It took even less time for Elladan to strip. “Is that better?”
Elrohir leaned back, pleasantly startled. “That is all you wore? To think you were wearing nothing beneath, all the day –“
“It is summer!” Elladan protested.
“-- through the court, and all throughout the streets. For our words to the Valar, even, with such a serious mein all the time! A good thing you did not let me know.”
Elladan tried to look stern as he said, “Next time, I might.”
“That settles it. Me, I would tire of bread before I tired of you. Come here?” asked Elrohir.
“One moment.” Elladan went to open the lamplighter’s cupboard. He tilted a metal oil-can and sniffed approvingly. “Imagine what the lamplighter would think, if he saw what we are about to do with his spare oil. What?”
“Just that it is good to see you smile,” said Elrohir. And it was. It had been good to have his brother come to him at Cair Andros, but it was even better to have Elladan turn to him when there was no quarrel to resolve. He dared to ask, “Show me something else. Ready yourself for me.”
Elladan said nothing, but poured several spoonfuls of the pale oil into his left hand. Briskly, he circled his palms together, spreading the oil. Then, as he knelt, he shifted one knee up and to the side, a pose both virile and vulnerable. A mix of pride and enough shame for spice played over his features as he gripped his hardening cock, then placed his oiled left hand where he could slide fingers into himself. “Like so?” He slid two shining fingers inside.
Elrohir had been folding their cloaks together to pad the wooden floor beneath them. He rocked back on his heels to see all, and felt his own skin flush hot. “You ever know what I want,” he said, hoarsely. Elrohir watched until Elladan slowly removed his fingers, slipping his oiled hand back over his own groin, lingering. “Ai, the way you work yourself – put those clever hands on me.”
With warrior’s grace, he was there, kneeling parallel to his lover on the folded cloaks. Elladan’s right hand was still bright with oil, and he palmed Elrohir’s own hardness. “Is this cold?”
“From your hands, never.” Elrohir grasped the top of Elladan’s thighs, feeling where the oil had run, spreading it back up with his fingers.
Elladan groaned, “You feel nigh ready. I know I am.”
“Then I shall give you what you want. How do you -” Before Elrohir could finish asking, Elladan turned and presented his back, still kneeling up, twisting his neck to look at Elrohir. When Elrohir slid in behind him, they stayed back to belly for a moment, arms wrapped forwards and back, indulging in the embrace. Elladan still led on. He leaned forwards so that Elrohir could enter him, then bade Elrohir to be still while he eased himself back, sheathing Elrohir’s cock fully inside him.
“All right?” asked Elrohir, burning to thrust into the tight channel sealed around him. “What you wanted?”
“Yes,” moaned the one who was everything to him. “Let me have it from you, Elrohir.”
Their words slid into a chaotic exchange. Commands blended into confession, then into pleading; one brother declared, the second affirmed, wrongs and lust and shared need. Elladan arced back, and Elrohir folded forwards, so that they were almost embracing again.
Elrohir had one of those intrusive moments when thought breaks into lovemaking. He recalled why they had come to the tower’s height, and was chilled for an instant at the thought of judgement. To forget, he shifted his right arm around Elladan’s chest, enjoying how Elladan was sweating. Feeling the hardness of the muscles, he spread his hand wide and flat, and almost cried out, for he could feel Elladan’s heart hammering. Elladan leaned into the touch. Breath rasping, Elrohir dropped his hand, finding his brother’s taut cock also hot with blood. “Elladan,” he gasped, “I’m going to spend. Inside you --” Elladan’s response was rigid silence, broken by a groan as his orgasm flooded Elrohir’s hand. Soon after, Elrohir kept his word, gripping Elladan tightly.
Afterwards, they leaned against each other, Elrohir leaving his hand where he could feel his lover’s pulse. “What are you thinking?” said Elladan.
“Blasphemy,” said Elrohir. “That to be with you like that is worth what we shall face.”
It was rare that Elladan was silenced. Elrohir let the silence be. The way Elladan remained pressed against him, placing his hand over Elrohir’s, was eloquent enough.
A wind came over the plain of the Pellenor and sent its breeze through the tower’s windows, snapping the banners and shivering the lantern, though its light did not falter. Elladan spoke again. “It grows late, by the chill. You do not have to do that. I am content.” His brother was mouthing fondly at his neck, behind where his single plait fell. “I am content,” he repeated.
Elrohir let his mouth rest still. Then he grumbled, “ We should have said we’d give that guard back his key in the morning. If we do not go to him soon, he may think we have flung ourselves from the height.”
“No, we have done the opposite…and it is just as terrible, in the end,” said Elladan.
Elrohir admitted, “I am more relieved than I expected. But you have consoled me well this night.”
The twin silhouettes were framed against the tower window in their embrace again. They were both wordless; everything had been said and settled, now. If the pair had looked out the tower’s windows, they would have been able to view the glimmer of the Sea. But they did not turn away from each other.
When they went down, the steps were less wearisome than before. It came to them that this was the first of the changes they had expected. They drew as close for comfort as they dared when they walked the city’s streets. Although their senses felt sharper, their eyes keener to detail, they felt the city’s life no more. The mortal walls were remote around them, as if the city and the battle-torn plain about was a vision that would pass, a block between them and the green world beyond.
Most painful of all was coming to the tavern by the guard’s barracks. They had to find the guard in the mortal crowds. Although they had lived far longer than any mortal, they had still felt connected to such folk, able to read and measure them. That sense of like kind was gone, now. Whatever their choice had shifted inside them had made it melt away. As they sought, they scarce dared to meet any man’s eye, grieving already the parting of the ways writ clear in every lively, ageing face.
* Set on July 17, 3019 Third Age (two days before the Elves leave Minas Tirith with the escort of Théoden.)
* Fifty fathoms = 300 feet.
* The Tower of Ecthelion = In Minas Tirith, the Tower of Ecthelion was at the very highest point of the city, fifty fathoms tall, capped with a pinnacle of pearl and silver and with banners. Ecthelion was an early Steward of Gondor; there was a second Ecthelion, the father of Denethor in ROTK. Built around 3340 in the Second Age – Minas Tirith is very old.
* The Valar = Divine beings and servants of Illuvatar directly linked to Middle-Earth. Varda/Elbereth, the elves’ star-goddess, was one of the Valar.
* Illúvatar/The One = Also called Eru, the creator/equivalent of Judeo-Christian God in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth theology.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.